One month into the new year, and we are on pace to repeat at least some of the events of 2020. The Chiefs and the Forty-Niners are back in the Super Bowl, and unless something drastic happens, Biden and Trump will be on the presidential ballot. At the same time, and on the same day, Biden’s Department of Justice threatened six peaceful protestors with eleven years in prison, while it comforted an anxious American populous with the wisdom of Elmo (of Tickle-Me Elmo fame). Equally, Michael Cassidy—the man who beheaded Satan’s statue—has been charge with a hate crime, while countless other beheaders-of-statues remain at large. And all of this as Gov. Abbott of Texas exercises his right as a lesser magistrate to resist the Supreme Court’s Red Carpet treatment for illegal aliens—6.3 million since 2020.
Welcome to America 2024.
It is easy to get sidetracked by all the noise in the public square, and it is equally tempting to bury our heads in the sand (or in the Bible) and to ignore it all. Yet, somewhere in between, we must stand. We must fix our eyes on Christ (Heb. 12:1) and remember that he who is in heaven laughs at those who rage against him (Ps. 2:3). Accordingly, when our governors take turns mocking God and our neighbors praise the pageantry of paganism, we must not shrink back; we must root ourselves in the unchanging Word of God. For none of the events happening around us are a surprise to the God of the Bible, and everything in the Word of God prepares us for faithful service in our generation.
To that end, we have sought to consider what Scripture says about Israel for the last month. Due in part to Hamas’s invasion of Israel on October 7 and Israel’s justified self-defense, and due to Pro-Palestinian groups on college campuses calling for Jewish genocide, we took up the task of thinking biblically about Israel—its place in the Bible and its place in the world today. And for the whole month of January, we offered a biblical and theological view of this concept throughout the canon until today. Brent Parker led the way with a thorough treatment of Israel as corporate Adam and a type of Christ. Steve Wellum built on that foundation and helped us to think carefully about Israel in the modern world.
In both instances, and with both podcasts, a key theme was a dogged persistence to read the Bible on its own terms. Instead of making quick and easy jumps from verses in the Bible to actions in the nation of Israel today, we must understand the place of Israel in God’s redemptive plan. Richard Lucas helped us to do that more fully with his treatment of Romans 11:26 (Part 1 & Part 2). And Trent Hunter modeled a way to think about Psalm 122, such that we might pray for the peace of Jerusalem in a way that the whole Bible commends.
At the same time, Steve Atkinson, with Christian Witness to Israel (CWI), provided a historical survey of Reformed Protestants. What did the Reformers, the Puritans, or English Baptists think about Israel? Is a focus on Israel a Dispensational commitment, or is it something non-Dispensationalists can embrace too? Steve argues for the latter and he shows how this is a common feature of Reformed thought.
Moving from the past to the present, Ardel Caneday, Owen Anderson, and Ayman Ibrahim provided commentary, respectively, on Cultural Marxism (part 1 & part 2), college education, and the founding and ideology of Hamas. Today, an unholy alliance has formed between the Marxist woke in the West and the Muslim warlords of Hamas in the Middle East. In these essays, you will find an ideological explanation for what is happening and why the Palestinians (and their supporters) cannot be good neighbors.
Indeed, spiritual warfare undergirds everything we are witnessing in 2024, and testing the spirits (1 John 4:1–6) is now a matter of understanding how political decisions are enervated by anti-Christian ideologies. In response, we cannot resort to the weapons of the world. Prayer and the preaching of God’s Word remain our calling. Yet, preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word means taking captive every thought that rises in opposition to Christ. In January, we sought to do that with the current and historical questions related to Israel.
You can find all of those articles listed here below (longform essays underlined).
A Biblical View of Israel: From David’s Star to David’s Greater Son
In the Year of Our Lord 2024: Making Anno Domini Great Again by David Schrock • We may not know what the new year will bring, but we do know that Christ still reigns as Lord over all. Whatever comes to pass only does so under his sovereign control. READ ARTICLE
Israel the Oppressor vs. Hamas the Oppressed: The Inverted World of Western Cultural Marxists (Part 1) by Ardel Caneday – After the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, students at many American universities demonstrated passionate support for this terrorist group. How did we get here? READ ARTICLE
Israel the Oppressor vs. Hamas the Oppressed: The Inverted World of Western Cultural Marxists (Part 2) by Ardel Caneday – Western support for Hamas is the most recent—and repugnant—act of worship by adherents of the secular religion founded by Karl Marx. Christians must boldly stand against such wicked ideology while proclaiming the gospel of Christ our Lord. READ ARTICLE
A Biblical and Theological Perspective of National Israel by Brent Parker • Longform Essay – How should we think about the nation-state of Israel today? To answer that question, we must consider how Israel fits into the Bible’s story about the people of God. READ ESSAY
“A Biblical and Theological Perspective of National Israel” by Brent Parker • Podcast Reading – How should we think about the nation-state of Israel today? To answer that question, we must consider how Israel fits into the Bible’s story about the people of God. LISTEN TO PODCAST
Jihad Against Judaism: The Religious Ideology Driving Hamas by A. S. Ibrahim – To most Westerners, the evil carried out by Hamas is incomprehensible. To understand how such wickedness is possible, we must examine the worldview informed by jihad. READ ARTICLE
Support for Hamas at the Secular University: The Crisis of the American University and the Need for General Revelation by Owen Anderson – Why are students at American college campuses calling for genocide of the Jews? Two words and a concept: Marcuse, Marx, and ignoring general revelation. READ ARTICLE
“A Biblical and Theological Perspective of National Israel” by Brent Parker, David Schrock, Trent Hunter • Podcast Reading – Listen in as David Schrock and Trent Hunter interview Brent Parker about his longform essay “A Biblical and Theological Perspective of National Israel.” LISTEN TO PODCAST
Praying for the Peace of Israel: A Theological Proposal and a Prayer by Trent Hunter – You’re at a prayer meeting. You’re asked to pray for the peace of Israel (Ps. 122). Who and what do you pray for? READ ARTICLE
What Should Christians Think about the Nation of Israel Today? by Stephen Wellum • Longform Essay – As Christians, how should we understand the modern nation of Israel? And how does this understanding shape our view of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas? READ ESSAY
“What Should Christians Think about the Nation of Israel Today?” by Stephen Wellum • Podcast Reading – As Christians, how should we understand the modern nation of Israel? And how does this understanding shape our view of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas? LISTEN TO PODCAST
How Will “All Israel” Be Saved in Romans 11:26? (Part 1) by Richard Lucas – Throughout almost all of church history, the church has been composed of a Gentile majority. Yet, Scripture says that all Israel will be saved. So, how should we understand this promise? READ ARTICLE
How Will “All Israel” Be Saved in Romans 11:26? (Part 2) by Richard Lucas – Part 1 of this article discussed the future hope still awaiting ethnic Israel. Does this hope also apply to national Israel? READ ARTICLE
Reformation and Re-Embracement: A Brief History of the Puritan Hope for Israel by Stephen Atkinson – The Reformed tradition has a long history of support for the Jewish mission, and we ought possess the same zeal to see the Jewish people brought to faith in Jesus Christ today. READ ARTICLE
“What Should Christians Think about the Nation of Israel Today?” by Stephen Wellum, David Schrock, Trent Hunter • Podcast Reading – Listen in as David Schrock and Trent Hunter interview Stephen Wellum about his longform essay “What Should Christians Think About the Nation of Israel Today?” LISTEN TO PODCAST
Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him: Theology by the Book
In February we will continue to think carefully about the whole world through the lens of God’s whole Word. And we will do that by considering what theology is. In celebration of Steve Wellum’s Systematic Theology (Vol. 1): From Canon to Concept, coming out this month, we will take up the task of discussing the nature of doing theology. What is systematic theology? Historical theology? Biblical theology? How does philosophy relate to theology? And why does good theology depend upon the firm foundation of God’s Word? And how does theology inform our preaching? These are just some of the questions we will consider.
In truth, there are lots of theologies, theologians, and theological traditions that do not subscribe to the full sufficiency of Scripture. And there are others that downplay the role of tradition and turn Sola Scriptura into Solo Scriptura. Such a view may rightly affirm the authority of the Bible, but it rejects the Spirit-led insights of faithful teachers (Eph. 4:11–16). True theology affirms the Scripture and receives tradition as a necessary minister of grace to help teach the church universal.
In recent years, a recovery of tradition and retrieval has led many evangelicals to eschew various forms of biblicism—an approach to doctrine that relies heavily on biblical proof-texting, treats lightly the confessional tradition, and often feels free to reject or replace classical terminology. This has been healthy and good, yet there has also developed some approaches that endanger the enterprise of doing theology according to the Book.
Indeed, in response to various forms of biblicism, there are other trends today which may place too much emphasis on tradition. In fact, as Evangelicals and Catholics continue to work together on various projects of biblical and public theology (e.g., using prosopological exegesis, adopting the four-fold sense of Scripture, recovering Christian platonism) there exists a very real threat that such cooperative efforts will result in cross-pollination. In February, and later this year too, we will address some of these trends, as we make a case for doing theology by the Book.
Indeed, the Book is the Bible. And while we celebrate the publication of a new theology book this month, our unswerving commitment to the Bible and all that it says about doctrine and life. Thinking our thoughts after God and his Word is the theme of this month. So, join us for the month of February as we consider the best practices for doing theology.
As I sign off on this Intermission, let me finish with three updates on monthly opportunities.
1. Monthly PDFs
In response to many requests, the wheels are now in motion to turn monthly themes into monthly PDFs you can download. Our plan is to make these available for a donation of $5/theme. And our hope is to have these up and running by Mid-Spring. Please pray for that work.
2. Monthly Zoom Calls
To foster discussion around the articles of each theme and to facilitate the questions we get emailed each month, we are going to start a monthly Zoom Call. This Zoom Call will be hosted by Trent Hunter and include members from the COA team and, when available, key authors. At present this call is set for 12noon Eastern Standard Time on Friday, February 23.
If you are interested to join us, drop us an e-mail with your name, your church, and your question. We will send you a link to join the call.
3. Monthly Supporters
By God’s grace, the Lord has supplied our needs as we enter the new year. At the same time, we are looking for churches and individuals to help support the ongoing work of Christ Over All. If you or your church has been helped by the resources provided here, please consider becoming a monthly sponsor. Or, simply give a one-time gift. And always, please share this work with others.
We are hopeful for what the Lord has for all of us in 2024, whatever that may be. As Psalm 110 was fulfilled in Christ’s ascension, we know that Christ is now seated in heaven and all things have been put under his feet (Eph. 1:22–23). All things includes America’s president and the presidential election of 2024. All things includes your church and your service there. All things includes terrorist attacks in Israel and the legal trials of Christians. And all things includes every debate, discussion, deception, and declaration made in 2024.
And so, as we enter this new year, let us walk with confidence on earth, knowing that our Lord reigns in heaven. Jesus Christ is Lord over all, and so whatever happens on earth, may it lead us to look to Christ and extol his name. Kingdoms are shaking today, but his is unshakeable. And so, “let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”